Austenite stabilization through carbon partitioning from martensite into austenite is an essential aspect of the quenching and partitioning (Q&P) process. Substitutional alloying elements are often included in the chemical composition of Q&P steels to further control the microstructure development by inhibiting carbide precipitation (silicon) and further stabilize austenite (manganese and nickel). However, these elements can interfere in the microstructure development, especially when high partitioning temperatures are considered. In this study, the microstructural development during the Q&P process of four low-carbon, medium-manganese steels with varying contents of silicon and nickel is investigated. During partitioning at 400 °C, silicon hinders cementite precipitation in primary martensite thereby assisting carbon partitioning from martensite to austenite. During partitioning at temperatures of 500 °C and 600 °C, presence of nickel inhibits pearlite formation and promotes austenite reversion, respectively. It is observed that the stabilization of austenite is significantly enhanced through the addition of nickel by slowing down the kinetics of competitive reactions that are stimulated during the partitioning stage. Results of this study provide an understanding of the interplay among carbon, silicon and nickel during Q&P processing that will allow the development of new design strategies to tailor the microstructure of this family of alloys.
|Journal||Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|